The island of Pukapuka has different chants – but there was one that was sadly missed this year. The yivayiva is a prediction chant that comes from the underworld; way back in the past people would chant from nowhere, a warning for an impending sickness. “Unfortunately, this, the yivayiva no longer happens,” said Poti Maeva, “because we had no warning for the coronavirus.”
Maeva presented the chants of Pukapuka to the final day of Te Kopapa o te Reo workshop on the classifications of Te Tangi o te Reo Pe’e, the call of our traditional chants.
The Pukapuka expert was happy to be part of the workshop. His island has seven varieties of the pe’e, he explained.
The mako is a song that tell stories of life – and there are five different styles of this chant.
They are: kupu, a love chant; pinga, an underworld chant that is brought to a living person through a dream; tangi, a chant for the dead or for funerals; tangitangi, a boastful chant full of pride; and the lalau, composed for an outstanding performance such as a great fish catch or winning a sports event.
The tila is like an Aotearoa haka; a part of chant is the pokopoko when people sing and clap – there is no challenge. The other part is the yaka when someone is filled with the feeling to challenge – this is performed with actions, like during the sport of poopoko (wrestling). The talotalo is a speech chant that has three sections; the yiliyili is a greeting or a welcoming chant; the valovalo is to call out in a welcoming way; and then there is the sadly missed yivayiva.
Te Kopapa Reo chairman George Paniani was pleased at the discussions. “We want to record the pe’e, and pass these on to the education system for our children to learn,” he said.